Entebbe Raid: Uganda, Kenya Clash as OAU Leaders Weigh In

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In the third part of our Entebbe story, Uganda and Kenya clash at the OAU summit in Mauritius over the latters role in the attack. African leaders call for action against Israel.
General Idi Amin meets the international press
Just hours after the July 4th 1976 raid at Entebbe, Uganda and Kenya clashed during the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) summit in Port Louis, Mauritius. 

The summit had opened a day earlier with President Amin handing over the Chairmanship of OAU to the Prime Minister of Mauritius, Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam.

Uganda's foreign affairs minister Lt Col Juma Oris accused Kenya of collaborating with what he called a Zionist state to betray an African state. Oris submitted that the action by Kenya violated the OAU (now African Union) principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of a member-state.

Kenya's Foreign Minister, Dr Munyua Waiyaki, rejected Col. Oris' charges but declined to comment further saying he had just heard the news. The July 5th edition of The Voice of Uganda quotes Dr Waiyaki as saying he would reserve his comments until he received more information from Kenya. Later in the day (July 4th), Kenyan Vice President Daniel arap Moi dismissed Col Oris' accusations outrightly noting that Kenya was not responsible for the attack and asked the assembly to condemn the Israeli action.

Kenya went ahead to issue a statement which was read to the media in Port Louis by Peter Onu, the OAU spokesman at the time. In the statement, Kenya said it too was a victim of aggression and therefore “condemns most unreservedly this blatant aggression and violation of our air space.” The statement pushed for condemnation of “this naked Israeli aggression against one of our OAU member states.”

OAU Leaders join in

As the discussion continued, President Leopold Senghor proposed a “message of sympathy and condolence on behalf of OAU” to President Amin. Senghor's proposal was unanimously supported.

Peter Onu, the OAU spokesman told the media on the afternoon of July 4th that the message had been sent to President Amin. Indeed, on July 5th Amin was quoted by the local Ugandan media as saying: “The OAU summit meeting in Mauritius yesterday (July 4) condemned the Israeli air raid.” The Voice of Uganda, the government newspaper at the time, quoted the president as saying the OAU members who joined in the condemnation and expressed “utter shock” at the invasion of Ugandan territory, included Egypt, Libya and Gabon, among others.”

President Omar Bongo of Gabon condemned the attack on Entebbe noting that Israel had lost the only opportunity she had to mend ties and work with Africa. General Mohammed Siad Barre, Bongo's Somalia counterpart also sent a personal message of sympathy to President Amin saying he had received the news of the attack with “utter shock”. He called for sanctions to be slapped against Israel.

President Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo) also weighed in saying the action ridiculed the whole of Africa.

Speaking on behalf the Arab-speaking OAU members, then Egyptian vice-president Hosni Mubarak charged that the Israeli action not only violated Ugandan sovereignty but constituted an act of aggression against all of Africa. This and the Israeli-South African cooperation, said Mubarak, served to undermine the security and independence of Arab and African countries and weakened African liberation movements.

Resolution on Israel Aggression

The final document of the Mauritius summit included a resolution condemning “Israel aggression” against Uganda.

In the resolution, the OAU leaders unanimously called for an urgent session of the UN Security Council to “take measures against Israel.” They said the Israeli aggression on Uganda constituted a threat to international peace and security under Chapter 7 of the United Nations Charter.

To show solidarity with Amin, the leaders unanimously agreed that an attack against Uganda was aggression against all OAU Member States “requiring collective measure to repel it.”

The OAU leaders adopted Mubarak's submission by tying the attack to the policy of cooperation between Israel and South Africa which “aims at threatening the independence and territorial integrity of all African and Arab States.

The resolution called upon all African States to intensify their efforts in order to isolate Israel and compel her to change her aggressive policy. It also mandated the Current Chairman of the Council of Ministers and Guinea and Egypt to assist Uganda in putting the case before the UN Security Council.

A secret cable dated August 3, 1976 from the Bureau of Intelligence and Research, US Department of State, captures the mood at the OAU summit. The cable, made public by WikiLeaks in 2006, suggests that that the raid on Entebbe acted as a spark that brought new turbulence into the meeting in Mauritius. Until news of the attack filtered through, according to the cable, Africa-Middle East relations had received limited attention.

In the fourth part of our Entebbe raid story, two camps emerge as Uganda takes the fight to the United Nations Security Council. Was what happened at Entebbe an “act of aggression” or “international terrorism”?

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